The ruling All Progressives Congress has called on elected officials and political officeholders appointed on the platform of the party to respect and take party supremacy seriously.
The appeal was made by National Publicity Secretary of the party, Felix Morka, at a one-day validation conference on the draft of The Progressive Institute handbook held on Saturday in Abuja.
The issue of party supremacy was recently put to the test in the build-up to the election of Senate and House of Representatives leaders in July 2023.
The APC had micro-zoned the position of the Senate President to the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Deputy Senate President to the Chairman of Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Jibrin Barau.
In the House of Representatives, the seat of the Speaker was zoned to popular Kaduna lawmaker, Tajudeen Abass, while the reps-elect from South East, Benjamin Kalu, was allotted the Deputy Speaker slot.
But the resolution didn’t go down well with some political bigs, especially in the Senate, who threatened to revolt against the ruling party by voting against its anointed candidates.
It eventually took the intervention of President Bola Tinubu to douse the tension.
Addressing the audience on Saturday, Morka expressed concern that there is a growing pattern among elected officials who he claimed often forget about party supremacy and start formulating personal policies once they assume positions of power.
He said, “The Progressive Institute that our national chairman midwived has offered us a unique opportunity to use it as the brain box of our party. There is a need to take to expand the interface between the party manifesto and the policies of the government.
“Because right now, there is no meeting point. Once elected officials get into government, they begin to formulate their own policies. There is really no corridor of intellectual engagement between the party.”
Morka added that “as part of the efforts to deepen this conversation, the party must also, through this institute, promote the ideal of party supremacy. This is a huge problem because when people are elected, they don’t see its supremacy as being ideal. There is a kind of relationship that ought to exist where elected officials should seek for input and ask for direction.
“This institute should be a stepping stone for the party to come up with ideas within the framework of democracy to earn the respect we should.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the APC National Chairman, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje denied speculation that the institute was a subtle arm of the party created to churn out out propaganda.
The former Kano State Governor also disclosed the determination of the party’s leadership to leverage science and technology in deepening internal democracy.
Ganduje stressed that the conference was necessitated by the need to review the draft of The Progressive Institute handbook with the aim of strengthening the process of decision-making through the deployment of research-driven, empirical and accountable approaches in the party’s operations.
He said, “We are determined to leverage science and technology to deepen internal democracy while also promoting democracy, good governance, inclusiveness and equity in the country. Our leadership is conscious of its historical responsibility to promote these ideals.
“The Progressive Institute will play a dual role for the APC. It will function as a think tank as well as an intellectual resource centre. As a think tank, it will undertake research either on its own or under the directives of the party, focusing on policies and programmes of governments under the APC platform.
“This will enhance the capacity to effectively play its role. It will also undertake capacity-building activities for our members.
“In both roles, the centre will carry out research on progressive ideals and their programmatic implications while also developing the curriculum for ideological training for members of the APC including those in government.
Also speaking, APC National Secretary, Ajibola Basiru, stated that the establishment will not only benefit the party but add value to the governance system in Nigeria.
According to him, the conference held to validate the handbook showed the seriousness the NWC attaches to the programme, adding that such efforts will eventually distinguish the party from other political parties in Nigeria.
“Our secretariat is open to all. Our bureaucracy and policies are designed to help politicians who are ready to serve the people and not just to get to the public office,” he said.